Friday, February 21, 2014

Inside the Life of Jeanerette's Outstanding Citizen, Kenneth Kern

His family always told him that business and politics don't mix, however, this became the perfect mix for Kenneth Kern who was named as Jeanerette's Outstanding Citizen by the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce.
Along with a deep tradition in business, Kern has successfully served the community through volunteer work and politics.
Tradition and a love of Jeanerette is important to Kern. In fact, Kern still lives in his family home where his father was born.
He grew up at a time when Jeanerette had about 2,000 more people, he said but the community remained close.
"It was different than it was now," he said of the city. "I think people knew everyone more than what they do now. I've always loved Jeanerette. I would never want to live anywhere else."
Kern's early years were filled with music, sports and school. He was one of 30 to graduate from Jeanerette High School. "Everything that took place you kind of had to participate or they wouldn't have had enough people. I took part in the band and loved music," he said.
His love of music and playing the trumpet gave him the opportunity to attend college on a music scholarship; however he decided to pursue another interest.
"I finished high school in '54 and we had a band. We played dance halls all over this area," he said.
Kern remained in the band until his junior year of college, at what is now ULL, when his studies in chemistry and mathematics required more of his time. He also met the love of his life, his wife Betty Charpentier, around that timeI was in college when she (Betty) was working in Franklin. She was from Adeline but I didn't know her until I had a blind date," Kern said.
He was introduced to Betty by June Rivette. They dated from that first date until they married two years later.
Kern said the secret to a long relationship was "to always say yes." "You can't go wrong," he smiled.
Entering into business was also an easy choice for Kern whose family owned Jeanerette Electric since 1924.
"My father needed me and I liked working here but being in business was the furtherest thing from my mind at the time," Kern said.
Kern began working in the business right after he left the U. S. Air Force and decided to take over the family business after his father died several years later.
"It was a family business. The Eskinds were partners with my grandfather and then me. They (the Eskinds) offered and I bought their interest in the business," Kern said.
Even though Kern had a taste of life outside of Jeanerette when living in Fort Worth while he served in the U. S. Air Force, he never wanted to live anywhere else. Being in business allowed Kern to raise a family of four sons in the community that he loved.
"It think being raised in Jeanerette is an ideal situation," he said.
Kern's love of the city eventually led him to pursue politics, although he was hesitant at first. He was elected to the Jeanerette City Council where he has served three terms.

"I do speak my peace for better or worse," he admits. "I've always tried to lend my opinion."
Kern loves that Jeanerette has maintained its small town appeal throughout the years and hopes that this will continue to attract residents.
"The thing I love the most about the city is I know just about everybody and everybody knows me," he said.
Kern would like to see the city limits expand and is proud of the accomplishments of the city.
Kern said that there was no secret to being an outstanding citizen, "it's just in the trying."
"I feel fortunate to have grown up in Jeanerette," he said.

Jeanerette Chamber Honored Outstanding Achievers

The Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce honored outstanding achievers to the city of Jeanerette  during its 58th annual banquet to be held at 6 p.m. on Feb. 7 at the Ward Eight Recreation Center.
Kenneth Kern has been named as the Outstanding Citizen and was honored along with other category winners at the banquet.
The categories and award winners are as follows: Outstanding Citizen ~ Kenneth Kern; Professional ~ Jacques Larroque; Senior Citizen ~ Mae Willow Jean-Batiste; Educator ~ Maria Robicheaux; Student ~ Madison Switzer; Public Servant ~ Fernest Martin; Volunteer ~ Ron Sovine; Couple ~ Darlene and Wilton Gibson.
MAE WILLOW JEAN-BATISTE has been named as the Outstanding Senior Citizen. She worked as a health unit aid for over 30 years at the Iberia Parish Heath Unit in Jeanerette. She also served as a certified nursing assistant at various health agencies including Complete Home Health Care and AB Family Agency of Lafayette.
Ms. Jean-Batiste is the co-founder of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary Court No. 184 where she has actively served as secretary and former grand lady. She has participated in the planning and fund raising for her church; has served as the Eucharistic minister chairperson, Altar Society secretary, Legion of Mary chaplain and has taugt CCD for 15 years.
Her involvement in the community includes working with the March of Dimes, Labor Day Telethon, Ministers' Allaince Prayer Breakfasts, and Food Pantry distributions.
She has also served on the Council of Aging for 23 years; Iberia Parish Jail Ministry and is a member of the Dauterive Hospital Volunteer Organization.
Ms. Jean-Batiste has received the Martin Luther King Jr. Service Award from the Lafayette Diocese and a 50 year certificate of membership from the National Office of the Knights of Peter Claver Ladies Auxiliary.
RONALD SOVINE has been named as the Outstanding Volunteer. He has been an active member of the community serving on many boards. He is a certified local government coordinator for the City of Jeanerette, serve as chairman of the Jeanerette Historic Advisory Commission where he has been a commissioner since 2005 and serves on the Board of Directors of the Jeanerette Bicentennial Park and Museum. His dedication to the community has led him to serve in many non-profit organizations including serving as a Board of Director since 2005 for the Jeanerette Historic Preservation Foundation and serving as a Board of Director and treasurer of the Jeanerette Landmark Society.
Sovine is currently employed as an I.T. Consultant for the Oil and Gas Industry and was employed as an I. T. Prfessional by Atlantic Richfield Company.
He holds a Bachelor of Science degree in zoology from Louisiana State University and a Master of Science degree in computer science from the University of Southwestern Louisiana. He is a graduate of Woodlawn High School of Baton Rouge and is married to Elizabeth Bourgeois Sovine. The couple has three children and two grandchildren.
JACQUES BURKE LARROQUE has been named as the Outstanding Professional. He currently is a pharamist at his family business, Larroque Pharmacy.
Larroque has worked at many pharmacy's including Lydia Pharmacy, Baldwin Drug, Frere's, Dees Pharmacy,  and Standard as well as other places of employment.
Larroque presently serves on the Board of Community Advisers for the Jeanerette Rural Health Clinic. He is a member of the Louisiana Pharmacists Assoiation, the Louisian Independent Pharmacists Association and the National Community Pharmacists Association.
He is Grand Knight ofthe Knight of Columbus Coucil 1425 of Jeanerette, a member of St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church and the Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce.
Larroque is a former member of the St. John the Evangelist Parish Council, Jeanerette Museum Board of Directors, Jeanerette Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors is is the former treasurer of the Jeanerette Landmark Society.
Larroque graduated from the College of Pharmacy at Xavier University in New Orleans and is a graduate of St. Joseph Catholic School.
FERNEST MARTIN has been named as the Outstanding Public Servant. He currently serves as Jeanerette City Marshal and served as president of the Marshal Association.
He serves as Lead Drill Instructor for the Alternative Center for Education in New Iberia and has mentor students while assisting teachers. He has served as a School Resource Officer and was lieutenant as a criminal patrol officer for the Iberia Parish Sheriff Department.
Martin served as the Policy Council President for Smile Head Start/Early Head Sart and was head football coarch for ten years for the Youth Football League.
Martin has received the Pace Setter Award from First Church of God and Christ; the Magnificent Men of Jeanerette Public Service Award and the Sterling Fatherhood Initiative Award.
Martin is majoring in criminal justice at South Louisiana Community College and has majored in criminal justice at both McNeese State University in Lake Charles and the College of Eastern Utah. He is a graduate of Ovey Comeaux High School.
MARIA ROBICHEAUX has been named as the Outstanding Educator. She currently teaches at Catholic High School where she has served as an elementary teacher for the past six years.
Mrs. Robicheaux served as a middle school teacher for nine years at St. Joseph Catholic School where she was named Teacher of the Year. In addition to her teaching duties at Catholic High, she is the lead teacher for the social studies department for the elementary and middle school.
She also serves on the Academic Awards Committee, is the Hospitality Committee Chairperson and is the moderator for the 4H Club for grades 4-12. She is a volunteer for the 4H horse shows at the parish and district levels. She has also served as a moderator/volunteer for the 4H Summer Camp and is a member of the International Society for Technology in Education.
Mrs. Robicheaux attended St. Joseph School, is a graduate of Jeanerette Senior High School and the University of Southwestern Louisiana (now ULL). She is married to Brent Robicheaux and is the daughter of Linda and Al Carlos.
DARLENE AND WILTON GIBSON JR. have been named as the Outstanding Couple. They are active members of Our Lady of the Rosary Catholic Church where they serve as Eucharistic Ministers, members of the Liturgical Committee and in many other capacities within the church.
They are members of the Knights of Peter Claver and past board members for the Teche Central District III Committee. They have received the Silver Award from the Knights of Peter Claver for over 20 years of service and the Teche Central District III Board Members Award.
Wilton Gibson Jr. is a superintendent for McDermott Inc. where he has been employed for 38 years. After 32 years of service, he retired as Command Sergeant Major with the Louisiana Army National Guard. Darlene Gibson has been a Para-Educator for 12 years with the Iberia Parish School Board.
In 2006, Darlene and Wilton reigned as King and Queen Ezana XIII for the Jeanerette Mardi Gras Association. Wilton Gibson Jr. is a member of the Masonic Lodge No. 31 and is a Metric Rider. Darlene is a Catechist for the First Communion class.
The couple has three children, Dwan Gibson, Dawn Gibson and Wren’nel Gibson.
MADISON SWITZER  has been named as the Outstanding Student. She will also be presented with the Arthur L. Verret Memorial Scholarship.
Madison is the daughter of Matthew Switzer and Amanda Buteau. She is currently a senior at Catholic High School where she holds a GPA of 4.0. She plans to attend college in the fall where she plans to major in marketing management.
She is a member of the BETA Club and the National Honor Society. She has earned many academic letters, received the highest average award in Religion III and Chemistry Honors, awarded the Principal’s Honor Roll; placed fifth in District Literary Rally in Algebra I, third in the Catholic High Social Studies Fair, and received the highest average award in Algebra I Honors and Fine Arts Survey.
Madison has received the Torch of Knowledge Award and has received the Serviam Medal during her freshman, sophomore and junior years. She currently serves as Student Body President and has been a member of the Homecoming Committee; has planned the annual fundraiser, is a member of Alive Campus Ministry Team, and is a catechist, lector and Eucharistic minister at St. John the Evangelist Church in Jeanerette.
Madison has also served as Student Body Vice President, President of the Octagon Club, is a member of the Kiwanis Key Club, member of the Light Ministry Team and has participated in events to raise funds for the American Cancer Society and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital.